Electro-thermal actuator for on-chip nanoscale tensile tests: Analytical modelling and multi-physics simulations

Alberto Corigliano*, Livio Domenella, Horacio Dante Espinosa, Yong Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This paper presents a complete discussion on the behaviour of an electro-thermal actuator (ETA) which was recently used by the Authors in a newly designed experimental method for the mechanical characterization of a variety of materials from thin films to Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) and/ or Nanowires (NWs). The electro-thermal actuator (ETA) can be used to load a tensile specimen up to rupture; it consists of a number of V-shaped beams anchored at both ends. It is capable of generating tens of milli-Newton force and a few micrometer displacement depending on the beam number and beam angle. Analytical computation of the thermo-mechanical response was derived and parametric studies were done to optimize the device response. A multi-physics finite element analysis (FEA) was performed to calculate the temperature in the ETA, its maximum displacement and the force which can be transmitted to a specimen. Part of the obtained results were compared with experimental observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-607
Number of pages16
JournalSensor Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007


  • Analytical model
  • Electro-thermal-mechanical actuator
  • Multi-physics finite element simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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